LEXINGTON, Ky. —Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred horse racing’s most prestigious international events, and University of Louisville are collaborating on a new communications course, COMM 510, which is being offered as part of the university’s Fall 2018 curriculum. Designed to provide students with practical experience and industry-level knowledge of the social media and public relations fields, the course tasks 16 undergraduate and graduate students with marketing the upcoming 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, taking place in Louisville on November 2 and 3.
“We are excited to collaborate with the University of Louisville to provide this unique opportunity for students looking to build their practical knowledge and experience in the competitive field of communications,” said Bryan Pettigrew, chief marketing officer of Breeders’ Cup. “Every year we seek out interesting ways to collaborate with the local community, and together with our social media agency, Grand Slam Social, we are particularly excited to engage with local students. We look forward to seeing what they come up with to help promote this world-class event.”
During the semester, students have studied and analyzed literature related to strategic planning, influencer marketing, public relations and social media management and communication, among additional topics. Students have been divided into two teams to develop a strategic approach for covering both the Breeders’ Cup Festival and the World Championships on November 2-3. Students have been engaging in a myriad of roles including creative ideation, social listening, content creation, run of show development, influencer management, social media publishing, event attendance and data analysis.
Early this month, students will be presenting their recommendations for social media coverage and will play a key role in implementing their strategy both onsite at Churchill Downs, and remotely. By the end of the course, students will present a final report demonstrating how successfully goals were reached and providing key takeaways for future Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“We, the students of #FrebergPR, are thrilled to be working with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this semester,” said Candice Champlin and Megan McLeroy, group leaders of the Fall 2018 course. “This opportunity goes above and beyond the normal scope of classroom learning, providing us with invaluable real-time skills and experience. We cannot thank Breeders’ Cup and Dr. Freberg enough for allowing us this incredible opportunity. Our hands and minds are already fast at work, and we hope to make you all proud!”
“As a working professional in communications and a student in University of Louisville’s Master’s in Communications program, it’s exciting to take part in a project that goes far beyond the classroom. Partnerships like these are real-world examples of the power of public relations and media and the importance of curated content on a global scale,” said Berry Franklin IV, class team leader. “Our class is looking forward to helping the Breeders’ Cup make the races this November a success.”
The graduate-level course is being offered through the Department of Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences and is led by Karen Freberg, Ph.D., associate professor in Strategic Communications. An industry expert, Freberg has more than five years of experience teaching social media and strategic communications courses at the University of Louisville. Portions of this year’s class are based on a textbook she authored titled Social media for strategic communication: Creative strategies and researched based applications. Past students of the course have subsequently secured internships and full-time roles at organizations such as Team USA, General Motors, Cision, Kentucky Derby, YUM! Brands, Adidas and Twitter.
“To have the opportunity to work with Breeders’ Cup is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to help bridge the gap between education and the industry. Our students are expected to have hands-on experience and applied skills as they graduate and enter the workplace, and in a span of four months, our students here at the University of Louisville will be able to work on one of the biggest global horse racing events in the industry,” said Dr. Karen Freberg. “The city of Louisville is known for horse racing, and it is exciting for students to have the chance of not just learning about the key aspects of social media strategy and PR, but to actually implement these ideas through creative executions. I am very grateful to have this partnership between our class at the University of Louisville and The Breeders’ Cup.”